Tag Archives: truth

3 Things I Learned From An Atheist

Recently, a talk show I’ve subscribed to interviewed an atheist intellectual.  I was only halfway listening as I was multitasking when a statement from the interviewed captured my attention:

“If you want to be religious and go to church on a Sunday or whatever and go to picnics and stuff, that’s fine, but there’s absolutely no reason to think you have to take it seriously and think there’s really some guy up on a cloud looking down on you.  You don’t have to go that far down the road.  You could be a cultural Jew, a cultural Christian, or a cultural Muslim, you know.  You can just enjoy the social aspects of it without actually sacrificing your reason and your doubt.  There’s like more than a billion people in the world who are just non believers.”

This revolts me.  Not because his downplay of religion offended me, but because it forced me to look at three uncomfortable truths.

We’re not fooling anyone

Even atheists can see that a lot of us are just “playing church.”  And as insulting as that guy saying we can just be “cultural Christians” and enjoy the social aspects, that’s what so many of us are actually doing.

If we’re not fooling other people, then we’re certainly not fooling God.  Seriously, God does not owe us for going to church or doing good works.  Our good deeds are as FILTHY RAGS to Him (Isaiah 64:6).  So we need to cut the act and get real.

Looks like a Christian?

There’s the saying “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, . . .” etc, then it’s probably a duck.  But just because someone calls himself a Christian, attends church, knows the bible, it doesn’t mean he’s a Christian.

We cannot take things at face value.  That will lead us to being easily deceived.  Look around you and ask God to reveal to you what’s really going on beneath the surface.

Stand for nothing, fall for anything

I listen to this show to remind myself how the identity of God is constantly being attacked by human reasoning.  Daily, our generation is exchanging the truth of who God is for lies and this is DANGEROUS TERRITORY (see ROMANS 1:18-32).

To my surprise, the show’s guest concluded with this:

I have to be convinced that one or more of these gods are real if I’m going to worship  them. . . The way I approach religion or any extraordinary claim is I’m willing to be convinced. Show me the mountain of evidence and I’ll be with you.  But I don’t see the same from believers.

We have to stop getting in non believers faces, trying to convince them of anything until we are convinced.  Are you truly convinced?  Do you believe in God because of something your pastor said?  Are you a Christian because of some feel-good experience you had years ago?  Beloved, we need to GET CONVINCED.

There is a real war going on.  Not against flesh and blood but powers and principalities (Eph 6:12).  So the point of this is not to go out starting debates with people who disagree with Christian truth.  It’s about recognizing the battle going on and our own unpreparedness.  We need to have His Word inscribed on the tablet of our heart, so that we cannot be shaken.

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Return Like the Prodigal Son, Part 2

So let’s pick up where we left off. If you haven’t already, I recommend you read Part 1 of How to Return Like the Prodigal Son. We left off where the son had come to the end of himself in his “prodigal living” and realized that he’d be better off going back to his father than continuing doing life on his own. Which brings us to the next step . . .

Return in Humility

And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ (Luke 15:20-21)

Remember, when the son left his father, he left with an offended heart. He had decided that he knew better than his father and decided to do things his own way. But the son realized that if he was going to come back, he would have to reconcile with the opposite attitude.

When we walk away from God thinking our way is better, we must return acknowledging that His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9). This turning of our hearts is called repentance. I don’t know about you, but I used to hate that word. The church has made it seem like such a dreadful thing, but really, it’s a beautiful thing. You have to remember the One you are coming before, despite what you’ve done, is looking upon you with compassion. Just like the son–before even speaking–was greeted with compassion.

Also, repentance is not something we do out of duty or habitually. Godly sorrow produces a serious turning of the heart (2 Cor. 7:8-10). You cannot repent if you are not truly sorry for what you’ve done. Repentance is not an easy ticket to wipe out the sin so you won’t have to be accountable for it later. When you repent with a sincere heart, then you are given the honorable privilege to . . .

Receive His Mercy

But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry. (15:22-24)

The morning after going through some serious repentance with a church elder at home via phone, I spent some time in corporate worship. I didn’t feel like participating. Even though I knew I had turned away from all the stuff I’d done, I still felt dirty and unworthy of God. Then my favorite worship song came on, and I could feel God tugging on my heart. It was a song about how great his love is. Then I got angry.

Seriously, I was screaming at God inside my head. I didn’t realize at that moment it was because I was having difficulty receiving His mercy. Before the song ended, I was in tears. He had won me over with one phrase: “It’s not about you. It’s about me.”

I realized that wasn’t in an arrogant “Because I’m God” kind of way. It’s not about me and how unworthy about I am. It’s about him because He is jealous for me. How much he desires me completely overwhelms any wrong thing I could have done. And that’s the beauty of it, beloved. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8). And that’s all that matters. So even if you feel unworthy, receive His mercy. Even at a time . . .

When Other Believers Oppose You

I won’t spend much time on this last point, but I feel I need to say it. At the end of the prodigal son story (15:28-32), the brother of the son complains about the welcome home celebration of the prodigal. , “These many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’

It’s human to feel jealous when someone else gets what you feel you deserve. Jesus even made mention of this in another parable where field workers all received the same pay regardless of how long they worked (Luke 20:9-19). So do not be surprised if a few in the church are not so happy to see you return with grace and favor over your life. They are no more righteous than you, we all fall short of His glory (Rom 3:23). Remember, it is God’s word that matters. And His word says:

“It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.”